Yahweh Rophe - The Lord Who Heals
Rophe. In Hebrew, this word means to “heal,” “cure,” “restore,” or “make whole.” As God led me to begin going deeper into His name, Yahweh Rophe, “The Lord Who Heals,” I could not have known how much our nation would need this very reminder just a week later.
In midst of unrest, deep pain, injustice, riots and racial tensions, this scene of snow blanketing the desert came as such a stark contrast from the swirling emotions that have recently overtaken our nation.
It is a vision I have been wanting to paint for over a year, but I had no idea why. When a friend recently asked if I had ever considered painting snow in the desert, I knew it was time to start.
With only a visual reference from which to work and the knowledge that Yahweh Rophe was the central focus of this piece, I began to ask the Lord, as I often do, why now? His answer came quickly in the form of the story of Moses at the waters of Marah.
In Exodus 15:20-27, God brings His children out into the desert to test them. Now, they had just rejoiced after passing through the red sea and seeing Pharaoh’s army defeated, but quickly their rejoicing turned into complaining as bitter as the water at Marah.
Springs are often bitter in the Sinai desert and the bitterness they encountered at this place, just days from the Red Sea, was no different.
In this moment of deep crisis, with no water for the thousands of Israelites, their faith failed. Their belief faltered and they began to rebel against the very God who led them out of slavery just days before. It is then that Moses did what they should have done — He cries out to God.
And God does not hesitate. He wastes no time showing Moses a tree to throw into the water and in a moment He miraculously sweetens the spring. There is no word of rebuke, no chastising - just a sweet and gracious response from God. He makes the waters drinkable. He heals them.
It is no wonder then that this is the first place that He introduces Himself to His people as Yahweh Rophe, reminding them that freedom from serving Pharaoh, doesn’t mean “anything goes,” it means freedom to serve Yahweh alone. If they do, He promises that, “I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
It’s at this moment I realized that the test wasn’t meant to create failure, but was used to show them the weakness of their faith and need for Him. I believe we stand at the same crossroads today.